Home | Industry & Reform | SA $14m cut ‘short-sighted’

SA $14m cut ‘short-sighted’

Taking money out of primary and preventative care will cost more in the long term, say nurses and health advocates.

Leading South Australian health groups have joined forces to launch a petition against recommendations for cuts made in the McCann review of non-hospital health services.

SA Health appointed Warren McCann, internal consultant for the Office of Public Employment and Review, last August to undertake the review.

More than 100 jobs and a range of different health programs and services are in the firing line, in a move which the review suggests will save about $14.6 million.

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (SA Branch), SA Council of Social Service, Health Consumers Alliance of SA, the Public Health Association and the Australian Health Promotion Association have joined forces to fight recommendations they describe as "short-sighted" and "not based on sound evidence".

ANMF state secretary Elizabeth Dabars said the recommendations contained in McCann's review are entirely at odds with international research and the Menadue Generational Health review, which emphasises the need for investment in preventative and primary healthcare and was adopted and is in current state government policy.

"If you can address issues now, then you can address the long-term costs of healthcare by intervention sooner rather than later," she said. "This goes back to the basic principle that prevention is better than a cure."

The groups believe that McCann's approach will increase the burden on an already overstretched hospital system. Rather than strip money away from primary healthcare, they suggest putting more investment into it.

"We can save money at the other end - which is not having people lining up at the emergency department which is a very costly exercise," Dabars said.

"As an example, if you have people that do become obese and morbidly obese - the cost to the system is significant. You have to buy additional infrastructure, beds, wheelchairs and you would need additional staff.

"Rather than having one nurse at a time you have to at least have four people just to assist them with their basic care needs.

"This is going to be a significant cost to the public and one that is much better avoided."

Dabars said the community will be the emotional and financial beneficiaries of a health system where investment is based on promotion and prevention, and it is up to the SA health professionals and community to make it happen.

"As health professionals we are advocates for our patients and really part of our advocacy should always be trying to avoid people from becoming patients in the first instance.

"I see the role of nursing and midwifery at this point to be part of that advocacy and as result I would encourage anyone in the nursing and midwifery professions to sign the petition but also encourage their family and friends and loved ones to also sign," she said.

SA Health said the review "supports a number of new recommendations which constitute significant reforms to the delivery of some non-hospital based services" and that a two-month public consultation on these services and strategies is currently underway, concluding on February 4.

The department said it welcomes and encourages all feedback as part of this process and "will consider all feedback on the new recommendations before finalising a proposed response to the report for government's consideration".

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